Panthers tame Lions

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News


MARION ? Monday night was a marquee win for the Mt. Pleasant boys. The Panthers, currently ranked No. 7 in the AP poll and No. 6 in the Gazette poll in Class 3A, took down 4A power Linn-Mar (No. 6/No. 8), 72-62 on the road.

It took a total team effort, but it was the starting five for Mt. Pleasant that was able to flex their muscle. The Panthers played a solid defensive game and held a hot-shooting Lion team relatively quiet for the majority of the night.

Linn-Mar did get off to a hot start, thanks in part to the guardplay of Jacob Robertson, who lit the Panthers up for 11 points in the first quarter. The Mt. Pleasant offense kept them in it, however. Kieran Kohorst and Brady Sartorius eached scored six first-quarter points, and the Panthers trailed 21-15 after one quarter.

The floor started to tilt towards Mt. Pleasant in the second quarter. The Lions cooled down from outside, and Mt. Pleasant was able to dominate the inside game.

The Panthers rattled the Lions with a handful of offensive rebounds, and Kohorst continued to give Linn-Mar fits inside, scoring eight more points in the second quarter to lead the team with 14 at halftime.

?That?s what we?ve expected to see out of Kieran all season,? said head coach Paul Rundquist about his senior post. ?What a fantastic game out of him, and we needed that from him. I mean, he?s our big man and he played like it.?

On the other side of the coin, Linn-Mar relied heavily on two players in the first half. Division 1 prospect Trey Hutcheson had 15 at the break and Robertson had 13, combining for 28 of the Lions? 30 points.

Things began to change for the Lions in the third quarter. Linn-Mar began to spread the ball around a little more, and grind away at the Panthers? lead. By the end of the third quarter, Mt. Pleasant?s lead was down to just two points, at 47-45.

The Panthers weren?t about to let this win slip away, however, and came out on fire in the fourth quarter. Mt. Pleasant opened the quarter on a 17-5 run, stretched their lead to double-digits with just over three minutes left and never let the Lions get back within striking distance.

The Panthers played a perfect fourth quarter, shooting 10-10 from the field and 5-5 from the line in the final period. Sartorius had his best stretch with the game on the line, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter to close it out.

?You just gotta credit the kids,? Coach Rundquist said. ?They did a super job in the film room the last couple of days, soaked it in and it?s good for them to see those things pay off.?

Sartorius finished with 26 points to lead the way. Kohorst and Jordan Magnani scored 16 points apiece. Jon Ita had 10 points and Colin Mulford finished with six.

The victory is Mt. Pleasant?s most high-profile win of the year, and will vastly improve their chances of moving up in the rankings over winter break. With the win, the Panthers went to 2-1 against 4A teams this season.

Mt. Pleasant moved to 4-2 overall with the win. They will look to close out 2017 with a home victory on Thursday, Dec. 21, when they host West Burlington at 7:30 p.m.